Though Rahat Indori scummed to his journey of life on Tuesday last, his words may last longer in the journey of Indians for their hole life.
Sabhi ka khoon shamil hai yahan ki mitti main,
Kisi ke baap ka Hindustan thori hai…
Meanwhile, Indori who was known as one of the greatest Urdu Poet in India was invited in a public appearance at Khargone, where he recalled this fired lines for the last time before his death on Tuesday, August 11, because of Covid-19. But, the lines were destined to become immortal.
Four decades ago, when Rahat Indori wrote these angry yet prophetic lines, he scarcely imagined they would one day become an anthem for a generation of Indians fighting a perversion of the idea of nationhood. Rahat Indori is no more. But his Shayari will continue to inspire millions and, perhaps, a few more revolutions.
Rahat Indori’s greatest contribution to poetry, ironically, was his biggest regret. And in this dichotomy lies the story of two Indias—one that loved this rebellious, irreverent, romantic and sometimes naughty shairi; and the other that was petty and bigoted enough to divide art with the scalpel of religion.
Indori, who died in the city that will be forever identified with him, underlined this cruel divide at one of his last mushairas (gathering of poets) on February 17 this year. On that February night, in a place called Khargone, you could feel Indori’s pain in every line he recited. He started by asking a poignant question:
“Hume pehchante ho?
Hume Hindustan kehte hain,
Magar kuch log jaane kyun
Hume mehmaan kehte hain?
(Do you recognise us?
We are called Hindustan,
But we don’t know why
Some people call us guests)
Then, he continued, voicing the angst of a large number of people whose loyalties have been questioned: “In some videos going viral, I have been called a jihadi. But Allah has told me, I am not jihadi but unique.” Then he read another brilliant couplet:
“Main mar jaun toh meri alag pehchaan likh dena
Lahoo se meri peshani par Hindustan likh dena
(When I die, mention my unique identity,
On my forehead inscribe Hindustan in blood)
For his fans, Indori, whose father pulled a rickshaw after migrating to Indore from the adjoin town of Dewas, was neither a jihadi nor a Muslim poet. He was the god of 21st-century shairi, a star so bright that every time he rose to read his poetry, he was greeted with a roar reserved for Indian cricketers (imagine Sachin-Sachin) and Brazilian footballers.
But, Indori wasn’t just a poet. He was a complete performer blessed with the art of mesmerising the audience with his mannerisms, diction and delivery. Often his poetry would start with a whisper that would silence the audience and end on a high note that shattered the silence as if it had been scored to the rhythm of an Andrew Rieu concert in Vienna.
Indori was a master of voice modulation, switching from a silken soft to a baritone. Such was the throw of his voice that you could have easily heard him a good 100 metres away without a microphone, on top of a screaming, clapping audience. To this, he would add the drama of his body. To the rhythm and cadences of his voice, almost on cue, he would throw his hands towards the sky, thump the lectern and turn his eyes flaming red with passion.